There’s a wealth of information available about daylighting, from its productivity benefits to its energy savings. While most of this information is incredibly helpful for small business owners, it’s often less valuable for owners of large buildings. From data centers to warehouses and fulfillment centers, large buildings can often have very different lighting and energy needs than their smaller counterparts. This can make the standard daylighting advice less actionable than it normally is. In this guide, we’ve shared four daylighting techniques that are helpful for owners of large buildings such as data centers, warehouses, fulfillment centers, factories and a wide range of other industrial complexes. Whether your building needs consistent light levels for visibility and safety or the right level of temperature control to keep equipment operating at its best, give the four tactics below a try when implementing your daylighting system.
Spread skylights to provide even, diffuse lighting
Larger buildings have larger lighting requirements and, as such, need more skylights to achieve the same level of ambient light as a smaller building. However, this can be made up for by spacing skylights further apart to provide even lighting. You may have noticed this technique used in big-box retail stores – skylights are put relatively far apart in the store’s ceiling, with artificial lighting used to fill in the dark gaps left between each skylight. Spacing skylights, particularly skylights with filters to provide diffuse light, provides a steady level of lighting throughout your building without the patches of bright and often overly focused light that single skylights can provide.
Design your system to maximize sunlight exposure
The position of the sun changes throughout the day, affecting the amount of daylight that your skylights and windows allow into your building. In large buildings, this can result in a serious difference between morning and afternoon ambient light levels. This effect can be countered by designing your daylighting system to maximize the natural supply of daylight. Many large buildings work with daylighting experts to design systems that make the most of morning, afternoon and evening sunlight. From skylight position to the angle of your building’s windows, seemingly small and insignificant changes can have huge effects on your building’s light levels. Speak to a daylighting expert to learn what’s best for your building before installing a system.
Use insulated skylights to maintain a steady temperature
Buildings that house electronic equipment, particularly data centers and other large indoor spaces that use a significant amount of energy, need to remain at a consistent temperature throughout the day and night in order to operate efficiently. Even small fluctuations in temperature – a few degrees cooler or warmer – can have a significant effect on the performance of servers and other equipment. This makes it vital that any daylighting systems installed do not affect the building’s climate. While offices and retail stores can often benefit from daylighting systems without insulation, data centers and other large buildings that house technology must use skylights with adequate insulation to maintain a steady, controllable temperature.
Use artificial lighting to complement natural sunlight
Even an extremely efficient daylighting system will leave sections of your building with lower levels of light than others. This is natural and normal – it’s difficult for a daylighting system to cover every square foot of a large, spacious building. An effective way to “fill the gaps” between the areas lit by skylights and the area of your building without sufficient light is to use artificial lighting in a complementary role. Light the room with sunlight, but fill the gaps with artificial lighting. When used correctly, it’s easy to maintain a steady light level without an extensive artificial lighting system. This allows you to keep light levels and visibility high but not face the costly power bills a large artificial lighting system can command.